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Shemot (Exodus) 21:22:

And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. (Translation from Mechon Mamre)

Does "harm" here apply only to the woman or also to the born baby?

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When you say "born" baby do you mean "stillborn" or "miscarried"? – Ariel Oct 4 '12 at 23:37
@Ariel - I myself don't know, because I don't know whether "harm" in this place could mean a damage done to the departed fruit - even to the extent of the fruit's death - or it's only related to the mother. – brilliant Oct 4 '12 at 23:45

This passage speaks of a case where men fighting negligently [due to their cations this is not considered an accident] caused a woman to have a miscarriage.

Despite the death of the baby, the punishment is a fine, rather than a punishment for killing.

They would be liable for additional damages if the woman was hurt. If the baby was born and lived but was hurt then the damages would be the usual ones for injuries.

I should add that the Jewish viewpoint on abortion is NOT at all similar to the Christian one.

Despite in being clearly forbidden (other than exceptions for health etc.) Jewish halacha does not consider it murder. An unborn child is considered as potential life, not as life, and while it is gravely forbidden to harm it, it is not murder.

As an example, if a pregnant women is tried in a capital case and sentenced to death, the sentence is carried out immediately (like all such sentences) and we do not wait for the child to be born first.

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"Despite the death of the baby, the punishment is a fine, rather than a punishment for killing" - Do not the words in the following verse "then thou shalt give life for life" imply punishment for killing? – brilliant Oct 5 '12 at 0:04
No. That is a commonly misunderstood phrase (along with eye for an eye). It means "give the [value] of a life for [taking] a life". I.e. that the punishment should fit the crime, rather than death (or an extreme punishment) for lesser crimes (although that applies more to eye for an eye). – Ariel Oct 5 '12 at 0:09
"It means "give the [value] of a life for [taking] a life". I.e. that the punishment should fit the crime, rather than death" - I don't understand. Can you, please, elaborate here? – brilliant Oct 5 '12 at 0:13
@brilliant In many old cultures all crimes were punished equally, and severely, frequently with death or slavery. The Torah instituted that crimes be punished proportionally - if someone damaged an eye, he is punished [by paying] the value of an eye, and he was not executed, or sold into slavery. So in this case he must pay the value of a life since he caused the loss of a life. (The courts would calculate these values.) – Ariel Oct 5 '12 at 3:01
@brilliant Executions are extraordinarily rare in Judaism. The person would have to be killing with intent, and be warned in advance. If the woman died it would be treated like other negligent deaths. This passage explains the implications of the unborn baby dying. – Ariel Oct 5 '12 at 4:53

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